SAN DIEGO — A blowout loss to West Virginia in the NCAA tournament didn’t change the stance of Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni: He wants to schedule the Mountaineers every year.
“We have a good program. We made the NCAA tournament. We got the first-round win. We’re a legit program. So play us. It’s that simple,” D’Antoni said.
West Virginia chose not to renew the series last season, ending a 25-year run of neutral-site games at the Charleston Civic Center.
“Whatever reasons they have, I don’t know, ” D’Antoni said. “Maybe they have a good reason. I don’t see it, but maybe they do. Maybe they do.”
Marshall followed up its first NCAA tournament win with a 94-71 loss to West Virginia on Sunday night, culminating a 25-11 season. The announced attendance of 11,628 included sizeable contingents from both schools despite being played on the opposite coast.
Gov. Jim Justice even flew in for the game, adorned in a specially tailored sport coat that was half-navy, half-green.
“The game should be played all the time,” D’Antoni said. “It’s better for West Virginia. Nobody lost this game. We won. We had the passion of West Virginia people there, passion of Marshall people there.”
D’Antoni credited West Virginia’s toughness and athleticism for turning the game into a romp in the second half.
While he implores the in-state schools to restart their series, he won’t settle for playing in Morgantown — as counterpart Bob Huggins has suggested — or signing two-for-one deals.
“I’ll play, but I’m not going to go up there,” he said.
West Virginia leads the series 34-11 and has won sixth straight.